Why Didn't We Do This Eight Years Ago?
Americans were once very political animals. As recently as the early 20th century, one could still take hours getting from one end of a major city street to another on election night because they would be thronged with people excitedly chattering about the candidates, the latest election results. With his characteristic style of full-immersion reporting, Stephen Crane wrote a news article consisting entirely of snatches of conversation that he'd heard on an election night in New York City.
Nowadays, it's a different story outside of campaign headquarters. Nowadays, even those who vote quietly walk out of their local school or other polling place and get right back to their tee vees. Unlike the old days, there's no sense of community in what is indisputably the most communal thing in human existence: Voting.
Nowadays, a good voter turnout in a general election year is considered to be one that actually approaches 50%. We've been disenfranchised by neverending corruption and scandals and Congresses and administrations that plainly listen more to well-heeled lobbyists than it does its own people. We have passed along to our children our cynicism of politics and politicians without passing along as a counterpoint the importance of voting in the good ones.
Given the level of political passion and involvement that we've seen in Iran, about the only number coming out of this crooked election that I will unconditionally believe is the 85% voter turnout.
Go to Andrew Sullivan's blog, whatever your differences with him over the Iraq war or being a former Bush cheerleader, and you will note that Iran has completely dominated it. Every hour or so, Sullivan is bringing us real-time blogging despite digital attacks and is getting coverage directly from the sources on the ground. The MSM, like the NY Times and CNN, are merely regurgitating stale facts from stale sources and are basically phoning it in.
In fact, the MSM habitually refer to Mousavi as a reform candidate who was defeated by Ahmedinejad, thereby giving some credence to the obviously crooked election results. All they're reporting is that there are riots in the streets of Tehran. We already know that. This isn't a mere riot. A riot that engulfs much of a country is no longer a riot.
It's a revolution.
It's a revolution that in a way has already claimed two victories. It has already severely crippled Ahmedinejad's credibility as a legitimate democratically-elected ruler who has merely played into the hands of Mousavi's supporters by desperately hanging onto power using jackbooted tactics on the streets, raiding college dormitories and committing acts of vandalism and openly threatening those who challenge the election results. Jamming tee vee transmissiions, blocking access to websites, making text messaging impossible. That's not democracy any more than the west's coverage of the three day-old melee is actual fucking news.
And this is the Iranian revolution's second victory, one over the pompous, smug MSM that got it so wrong with Iraq and its WMD's, got it so wrong with Hurricane Katrina and got it so wrong, yes, with Iran. It's bloggers such as Sullivan and Nico Pitney using sources on the ground down there that the MSM would never think to even hunt down, people using Twitter to spread news and pictures of not just the mayhem but the context behind it.
Iran, especially its young voters that are interested in the west, has shamed our media and it has shamed we the American voter. Just as Pakistan had shamed us last year. Just as Mexico had shamed us after their own elections. Just as the Indians of Peru are shaming us to this day by putting their lives on the line to defend their homeland against encroachment by oil drillers.
Indeed, we should've taken to the streets eight years ago long before inauguration day 2001. We should've sent Bush a loud, filthy message from the day after election night that we will not stand for having our democracy, our very electoral process, stolen from us.
We used to be like this, like this Iranian girl who could be posing for the Statue of Liberty. What happened?